The Webby Awards – One Man’s Approach to the Portfolio Genre

In class we have talked about design, message and social media integration as key considerations when building a website.  Knowing that the 2010 Webby Awards ceremony is two weeks away, I thought I’d check out the winners to see what insights could be gleamed from those the Webby judges deemed best of breed.  As many know, the Webby’s cover four major categories– websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video and mobile.  Judges are members of the International Academy of Visual Arts and Sciences (Beck, David Bowie, Arianna Huffington, Rob Glaser and Richard Branson to name a few).  Each category also has a People’s Voice Award – where people have the opportunity to vote on those nominated by the Academy.  With 70 categories, the website entries make up the majority of the winners.  Key criteria for websites include content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity and overall experience.

The winners represent a wide range of creativity and digital storytelling.  Check out Hank the Singing Bottle, which won in the Associations category.  The graphics are decent, the song is catchy and the story is cute.  The HBO Imagine site that won for Best Navigation/Structure is very cool- don’t forget to spin for the 4-way perspective.  Twitter took top honors in the Best Practices category, which is defined as sites serve as an industry benchmark for the most current, innovative, and advanced practices in Web development. Sites demonstrating unparalleled excellence across The Academy’s six criteria: content, structure & navigation, visual design, interactivity, functionality, and overall experience. Nike’s Michael Jordan History of Flight for Best Visual Design/Aesthetics- which (in my humble opinion) is not nearly as cool as the 2008 winner in the category — design company by the name of Checkland Kindleysides (I love the simple artistry of their design).  The Economist Thinking Space won for Best Visual Design/Function and Best Use of Photography- a very cool site that is reminiscent of Apple’s What’s on Your PowerBook campaign.

It’s interesting to me that the People’s Voice winners in those categories were, arguably, more personally engaging in design and experience.  For example, Speak Now for Kids was voted best in the Association category; Best Practices went to NPR; We’re All Fans got the nod for Best Visual Design/Aesthetic; and The Image Collection was deemed Best Visual Design/Function.  HBO Imagine won both categories for Best Navigation/Structure.

I have to say, the big Huh? is the winner of the Best Home/Welcome page.  The competitive line-up included Evian @ Wimbledon, Hello Monday (a design firm), Life.com (who knew Life still existed as a brand?), T2 (a motion and visual effects company) and a site called Male Copywriter.  You can probably already guess the winner.  Yes- Male Copywriter – the portfolio site for a guy by the name of Lawson Clarke.  It’s a reminder that randomness can go a long way when it comes to engaging an audience- or at least judges.  It’s worth noting that Life.com took the People’s Voice award.

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